Two athletes on the ice competing in the 2018 Olympic Curling Trials
OMAHA--Two curling athletes compete at the 2017 curling Olympic Trials held at Baxter Arena in Omaha. Photo courtesy of Omaha Sports Commission.

The road to Beijing, China begins Nov. 12 for curling athletes across the country, competing in Omaha for a spot on the United States Olympic team in 2022.

Baxter Arena is hosting 12 curling teams from Nov. 12-21 for a chance to represent Team USA at the 2022 Olympics. One men’s and one women’s team will represent the United States. Curling is a team sport played on ice where players take turns sliding stones toward a target. The 2018 Olympic Trials took place in Omaha, where roughly 22,000 tickets were sold.

Lindsay Toussant, director of operations at the Omaha Sports Commission, said ticket sales are ahead of what they were in 2017, which she attributed to the USA Curling team winning gold in the 2018 Olympics.

“We are hoping to crush our [attendance] record from last time,” Toussant said. “We have a group coming from Arizona and individuals from Alaska. Clubs all over the country want to come and support their own sport.”

Toussant said Omaha is phenomenal for hosting major events like this, along with other events going on in Nebraska at the same time.

“The city is thriving,” Toussant said. “I hope people are excited to come. It’s an opportunity you get to see once every four years, and not necessarily once every four years in your backyard.”

Michael Smith, the interim general manager of Baxter Arena and the main event manager for the Olympic Trials, said roughly 50,000 people are expected to attend.

“Omaha is a special place,” Smith said. He said hotel rooms are booked in the Aksarben area for more than two weeks, bringing increased business for local shops and restaurants.

Hosting a world-class event in Omaha leads to exposure on a local, national and international level. 

“This is a unique event that we are fortunate to host in the Omaha community,” Smith said. “We will gain both national and international exposure from the event being televised on NBC Sports Network. It allows us to welcome thousands of guests to our campus and our arena.”

After hosting in 2017, Omaha bid for the 2022 trials and was given the opportunity to host again. Smith said he saw hundreds of University of Nebraska-Omaha and University of Nebraska Medical Center students attend the event in 2017.

“The public is truly the best in the nation,” Smith said. “The local community supports their events and that is why events want to come back here.”